2008年8月25日 星期一

Londoners Cast Wary Eye To 2012 Games


Londoners Cast Wary Eye To 2012 Games

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As the Olympics ended Sunday in Beijing with a spectacular display of choreography and fireworks, Londoners wondered if their city -- facing budget constraints -- will be spruced up in four years, let alone match Beijing's elaborate opening and closing ceremonies.

The three-hour closing ceremony was watched live on outdoor TV screens in some 30 cities and towns across Britain, including London, where 40,000 people attended an Olympic-dedicated rock concert outside Buckingham Palace. Adding star power, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps made an appearance at the concert, backed by one of his sponsors, credit-card company Visa.

London offered a taste of what to expect when it hosts the Olympics in 2012. In an eight-minute segment of the closing ceremony reserved for the next Olympic host, it put on a display of popular British culture, its casual creativity contrasting with Beijing's mega-choreography. A red double-decker bus drove into the Bird's Nest stadium, its roof folding back to reveal soccer player David Beckham and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page playing one of the band's hits, 'Whole Lotta Love.'

Even as Britain basks in the success of its athletes in Beijing -- it ranked fourth in gold medals after China, the U.S. and Russia -- its bad track record at public construction projects and slowing economy are prompting some concern about hosting the Olympics in 2012.

Already some members of the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, or Locog, are damping public expectations. But London's new mayor, Boris Johnson, said in an interview, 'We are not remotely intimidated by what the Chinese have done but we do admire and respect it.'

One of the top priorities: improving the reliability of the city's transportation network. The city's trains frequently break down, the narrow roads are crowded, and the airports are often short staffed. Mr. Johnson, who accepted the official Olympic flag in Beijing at Sunday's ceremony, says he recently spent so long waiting for his bags at Gatwick Airport he offered to unload them himself.

If the Beijing 2008 Olympics were seen as China's coming-out party as a world power, Britain is looking to the Olympics as an urban development project, rebuilding an area in East London used as landfill for Blitz rubble from World War II. Since then, the blighted area has been filled with electricity towers, railroad tracks and garbage-strewn streams.

The U.K. plan faces budget constraints. Britain, with its heavy dependence on banking, has been hit hard by the global credit crisis, its real-estate market is tumbling, and it faces a budget deficit. The government has set the Olympics budget at GBP 9.3 billion ($17.2 billion), which includes construction as well as operating the Games, far below Beijing's estimated $42 billion.

As well, security is a big concern in London, which was hit by terrorist attacks in recent years. London expects to spend about GBP 600 million on security during the Games, with more funds set aside for emergencies, according to the government's published budget.

About 100 London organizing committee staff spent the Olympics in Beijing to learn up close how the Games work. London's Olympics Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe, a gold-medalist runner himself, visited all Olympics venues in Beijing and got frequent briefings from the hosts on issues including technology and athletes' facilities, his spokeswoman says. In November, Beijing Olympics officials plan to meet their London counterparts to discuss what went wrong and what worked.

The opening ceremony 'won't be about matching' Beijing, says Charles Allen, a member of the Locog board.

Mr. Allen says 'inclusiveness' will be a theme for the Olympics in London, and the opening ceremony will represent all Britain's races, religions and classes. Organizers may not hire an artistic director for the opening and closing ceremonies for another two years.

But suggestions are piling up. Ric Birch, who produced the Sydney and Barcelona opening ceremonies, says London should use humor such as an appearance by Monty Python, an English comedy ensemble from the 1970s. In posts on British Web sites, many people have said London should emphasize its cultural heritage, such as Shakespeare, the Beatles, or designer Vivienne Westwood.

Some Londoners are already griping the Games will cost too much. 'It's becoming like an arms race of who can burn the most fireworks,' says Stuart Dennison, the manager of a bicycle shop in central London.

And tourists will find London expensive. High prices for hotels, restaurants and taxis make London the world's third-most expensive city, behind Moscow and Tokyo, according to Mercer, a consulting firm.

Meanwhile, in Stratford, the area of London that will house the Olympic Village, bulldozers and construction workers are currently cleaning up the site for the Olympic Stadium, a swimming pool, and velodrome. After the Games, the government plans to convert 1.5 million square feet of space into offices, and leave behind a large public park and about 3,300 apartments, which it hopes will become a flourishing community.

So far, London's preparations are as far advanced as Beijing was four years out, according to the International Olympic Commission, which sent inspectors here a few months ago.

Aaron O. Patrick



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英 國倫敦等30多個市鎮設置了戶外大屏幕,實時直播了歷時三小時的北京奧運會閉幕式,還有4萬人參加了白金漢宮外的奧運主題搖滾音樂會。信用卡公司Visa 讚助了此次音樂會;該公司簽約的美國遊泳明星邁克爾﹒菲爾普斯(Michael Phelps)也在音樂會上露面,使得音樂會更加星光燦爛。

Getty Images
作 為2012年奧運會主辦城市,倫敦在閉幕式上的表演給人們帶來了對下屆奧運會的風格期望。在8分鐘的表演時間裡,倫敦展現了英國流行文化,隨意創造性的表 演與北京規模宏大的舞蹈表演形成鮮明對比。一輛紅色雙層巴士開進了鳥巢,巴士的頂篷掀了起來,足球明星大衛﹒貝克漢姆(David Beckham)和齊柏林飛艇(Led Zeppelin)樂隊的吉他手吉米﹒佩奇(Jimmy Page)登場亮相,後者演奏了樂隊的熱門作品之一“Whole Lotta Love”。


倫敦奧組委的一些成員已經在淡化公眾的期望。但倫敦新任市長鮑裡斯﹒約翰遜(Boris Johnson)接受採訪時表示,我們並沒有被中國人所做的事情嚇倒,但我們確實對此十分敬佩。





London 2012
大 約100名倫敦奧組委成員來北京考察了本屆奧運會,以便近距離學習奧運會的運作方式。倫敦奧委會主席、前賽跑冠軍的塞巴斯蒂安﹒科勛爵(Lord Sebastian Coe)的發言人說,科參觀了北京的所有奧運場館,並經常就技術和運動員設施等問題向東道主取經。北京奧委會官員計劃在11月會晤倫敦同行,討論奧運會組 織工作中的得失。

倫敦奧組委成員查爾斯﹒艾倫(Charles Allen)說,倫敦奧運會開幕式不會刻意與北京相比。


但 各方建議越來越多。執導過悉尼和巴塞羅納奧運會開幕式的裡克﹒伯奇(Ric Birch)說,倫敦應當加入幽默元素,比如讓上世紀70年代的英國喜劇團體Monty Python亮相。在英國一些網站的貼子中,許多人都表示倫敦應當突出其文化遺產,比如莎士比亞、披頭士樂隊(Beatles)或是設計師薇薇安﹒魏斯伍 德(Vivienne Westwood)。

一些倫敦人已經在抱怨奧運會成本太高。倫敦市中心一家自行車商店的經理斯圖爾特﹒丹尼森(Stuart Dennison)說,這簡直就像是軍備競賽,比比誰放的煙花最多。


與 此同時,在倫敦奧運村所在地斯特拉特福德(Stratford),推土機和建築工人目前正在清理場地,為體育場、遊泳池以及自行車室內賽車場的建設做準 備。奧運會後,政府計劃將150萬平方英尺的奧運村場地改為寫字樓,並留下一個大公園和大約3,300套公寓,希望這裡能發展為一個繁榮的社區。


Aaron O. Patrick